Commercial Drive’s The Cannibal Café announces its closure

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      As famous as a shrine to classic punk rock as it is for its burgers, craft milkshakes, and unbeatable onion rings, The Cannibal Café on Commercial has announced its closing. The Drive favourite’s last day will be this Sunday (December 17). 

      Owner Matt Thomson cited numerous factors playing into his decision, some of them related to personal health issues, and many familiar to Vancouverites, including rent increases and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

      Taking its inspiration from a classic SNFU song, The Cannibal Café opened in 2012 with an attitude that was unmistakably street-level rock ’n’ roll. The walls were plastered by old punk flyers for bands ranging from D.O.A. and NoMeansNo to the Violent Femmes and the late, great Scramblers.

      As far as the background music went, it was perhaps the only restaurant in the history of Vancouver where you could chow down to the legendary Chi Pig singing, “I recommend the ‘Ass of a farmer’s wife’/Very tender, not too juicy, heavy on the cellulite” in “Cannibal Cafe”.

      When the Straight first wrote about the eatery back in 2013, Thomson explained the vision for the room as follows: “I wanted to build a cool burger joint, like a diner, but something that had a little more edge to it. I had this poster idea for a long time, and I know poster guys in Vancouver, so I was like, ‘Do you have old punk, vintage posters?’ And he did. There’s nothing new in the restaurant—they are all ’90s and older.”

      He also noted, “As a restaurant owner over the past 15 or 20 years, every time people would come in they’d always have a burger. When I was younger, it would piss me off, like, ‘Why won’t they try something else that we make?’ Over the years, I finally started to think, ‘Well, why don’t we do what we do really well?’ My idea was, if I’m going to open up a burger joint, it’s got to be the best in the city.”

      Mission accomplished, with favourites like the Big Blue Burger and those truly magnificent onion rings.

      Ruminating on the closure today, Thomson says in a release: “I just want to express my gratitude to everyone throughout the years who helped make this place so special. You never know. Maybe one day we’ll be able to find a new home for Cannibal, but for now I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and guests in these final days leading as I get ready to say farewell to what has been a big part of my life, and will always hold a special place in my heart.”

      With the Cannibal Café as fiercely original as it was fun, this one will be missed.